Bahraini regime’s links to ISIS

This video says about itself:

British base in Bahrain is “slap in the face for everyone fighting for human rights”

8 December 2014

Activists are protesting in Bahrain. The reason: the country’s plans to host a permanent British military base. They say it’s a reward for London, which ignores human rights violation in Bahrain. The protesters carried banners “Shut up Iain Lindsay” – it’s British ambassador to the country who they want to be sacked. The UK military is expanding in the region after most of its projects were scrapped in the 70’s. The base costs more than 23 million dollars and will be used in fighting ISIS and as a training ground for Syrian rebels. Dominic Kavakeb from Bahrain’s Justice and Development Movement is In the NOW.

By Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, director of advocacy of the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, in the New York Times in the USA:

The Islamic State’s Bahraini Backers

NOV. 25, 2015

LONDON — “Sectarianism failed,” Bahrain’s foreign minister, Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa, told a news conference attended by Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington last week. It had not gained “a foothold in our country,” he went on, “but we will continue to be on our toes facing it.”

Mr. Kerry spoke, too, about military cooperation against Daesh, the group also known as the Islamic State or ISIS, and about working to “reduce the sectarian divisions together in Bahrain, which we saw resulted in a boycott of an election and challenges internally within the country.”

Characterizing the boycott that led opposition groups to call off participation in Bahrain’s November 2014 general election as sectarian is fundamentally wrong. The sectarianism that exists in Bahraini society is almost the reverse of what Mr. Kerry and Sheikh Khalid described: It comes not from the political opposition, but from within the state itself.

In November 2011, the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry completed an investigation into human rights violations during the Bahraini government’s crackdown on Arab Spring protests earlier that year, and presented its findings to King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa. The king accepted the report’s recommendations as the basis for a reform program.

But the promised change never came. Instead, as a new report from Human Rights Watch details, the Bahraini security forces have continued to torture detainees using methods identical to those the commission documented in 2011. Violence and arbitrariness are widespread from arrest to prison, where collective punishment and beatings are well documented.

The opposition political societies (actual parties are illegal in Bahrain) had simple demands: the formation of a credible, independent judiciary and meaningful steps toward democratization. Because neither of these moderate demands was met in the four years following the Arab Spring, the opposition groups decided to boycott the elections.

With hindsight, this strategy was a mistake. It gave the government of Bahrain carte blanche after the elections, imprisoning opposition leaders like Ebrahim Sharif and Ali Salman. Human rights defenders like Nabeel Rajab suffered arbitrary arrest. Another rights defender, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, is serving a life sentence, as is the blogger and activist Abduljalil al-Singace. According to a coalition of Bahraini human rights organizations, as many as 4,000 doctors, teachers, students, journalists, photographers and others are detained as political prisoners in Bahrain’s prisons; many have endured torture.

The same week that Sheikh Khalid spoke in Washington, two men had their death sentences upheld by Bahrain’s top appeals court. Mohammed Ramadan and Husain Ali Moosa were convicted of taking part in a bombing that killed a policeman in 2014, but both men claim they were tortured into confessing to the crime.

In 2014, five United Nations human rights experts, including the special rapporteur on torture, expressed concern that Mr. Ramadan, Mr. Moosa and other prisoners had made confessions under severe duress. Yet nothing now separates the two men from the firing squad save King Hamad’s whim — since he may sign either their death warrant or a royal pardon.

While Bahrain imprisons political activists and rights advocates at home, it also participates in the American-led coalition against the Islamic State. The bitter irony of this is that the Islamic State’s Bahraini recruits come not from among the government’s opponents, but from within its own ranks.

Unlike the United States, Britain and France, where typically the Islamic State recruits among alienated young people, in Bahrain the group finds willing jihadists in the establishment. The most prominent Bahraini member of the Islamic State, the terrorist preacher Turki al-Binali, comes from a family closely allied with the Khalifa royal family. Other recruits have come directly from the security forces of Bahrain. (Mr. Rajab, the human rights advocate, was imprisoned for six months recently for pointing out links between the Bahraini military and the Islamic State.)

Another Binali family member who has defected to the Islamic State, Mohamed Isa al-Binali, is a former Interior Ministry officer. He worked in Jaw Prison, a facility notorious for overcrowding and harsh conditions. One former prisoner told me that he’d witnessed Mr. Binali overseeing the ill treatment of juvenile Shiite inmates, not long before Mr. Binali disappeared in 2014 to join the Islamic State.

Mr. Binali was acclimated to violence and hatred in Bahrain’s prison system. This is not something Bahrain will ever admit to: For the government, the embarrassment is too great. But until it does, it cannot possibly combat extremism effectively at home.

This is an extremism of its own making, born out of the destruction of Shiite mosques and the sectarian language that many in government use — as Sheikh Khalid does — in an attempt to undermine the credibility of the democratic opposition. Bahrain, I fear, is heading in the direction of Saudi Arabia, where radical Salafism has fostered sectarianism and terrorism.

On Jan. 31, I discovered that my Bahraini citizenship had been revoked when I woke in London to find my name on a list published by the Bahrain News Agency. Alongside mine were the names of some 50 other activists, journalists and political figures — as well as those of about 20 affiliates of the Islamic State and Al Qaeda, including Turki al-Binali and Mohamed al-Binali.

The reasons for revocation ranged from serious terrorism charges to “advocating regime change.” The message could not be clearer: For Bahrain, my human rights work was equivalent to terrorism.

How can a country that willfully refuses to differentiate between peaceful calls for democratic rights and terrorism deal with sectarian extremism? Earlier this year, President Obama promised to have the necessary “tough conversation” about these issues with Persian Gulf state allies. Yet Mr. Kerry just gave Bahrain a pass on the sectarianism at home that is feeding the Islamic State abroad.

Bahrain: NGOs condemn imprisonment and nationality revocation of photographer. Index on Censorship calls for the immediate release of Sayed Ahmed al-Mousawi. Bahrain must end the criminalization of free speech and press: here.

36 Bahraini receive 429 years in prison, 13 stripped of citizenship: here.

German teacher punished for anti-nazism

This is a 4 December 2014 German TV video about Limburg town. Swastikas are illegal there; but removing swastikas is as well.

From daily The Independent in Britain today:

German teacher fined for painting over swastikas near a primary school

Ralf Bender said he would continue to appeal the fine, telling reporters as a teacher it was his job to ‘set an example’

Rose Troup Buchanan

A German teacher has been fined €1,000 for painting over swastikas sprayed onto signs near the primary school where he taught.

Ralf Bender, who teaches in the small town of Limburg in Hesse, has lost a case against the local council after he painted over a number of swastikas sprayed onto signposts near the school in 2013 when authorities failed to act despite being informed of the offensive symbols. He told [a] local newspaper he took action because he wanted to remove the offensive signs before pupils returned to the school.

On Tuesday the town upheld a decision to make Mr Bender pay cost of €1,000 cleaning costs, the Local reports.

But the teacher, who said the town’s actions were a “joke” and the symbols a mockery of the Nazi’s victims, has promised to take his case to Germany’s highest court and refused to pay the fine.

“I stand in front of children every day. It is my job to set an example to them,” he told German newspaper Süddeustche Zeitung.

While many have expressed support for this actions, the teacher also claims people have threatened him and forced him to take security measures at home.

The swastika, a still-potent symbol of the Nazi regime responsible for the deaths of millions, is banned in all forms within Germany under the country’s criminal code.

Duke Ellington’s jazz and classical music in Amsterdam church

This video from the Netherlands says about itself:

When Amsterdam expanded in western direction in the beginning of the 17th century, new churches were needed. One of these new churches was the Westerkerk (The Western church), built between 1620-1638. The initial designer of the Westerkerk was Hendrick de Keyser, whose son Pieter took over after his father died in 1621.

On 15 November 2015, there was a concert in the Westerkerk in Amsterdam. This church is not far from the Anne Frank House. Anne Frank could see the church’s tower from her window in the secret annexe during World War II.

The big church was full of people for the concert. There ware many people on stage as well. The Nationaal Symfonisch Kamerorkest this time, besides their usual classical music instruments, had jazz instruments like drums and saxophones as well.

There was also a big choir. Really, a merger for this concert of two Amsterdam choirs: GrootNoord, from the north of the city. And Singi Nanga Firi, a Surinamese name for a multicultural Christian choir.

Westerkerk concert flyer

The music was by Michael Tippett, a British classical composer, inspired by African American music in the ‘Five Negro Spirituals’ in his work A Child Of Our Time. After Tippett came the Sacred Concert, by famous United States jazz musician Duke Ellington, with classical music influences as well. This was the first time ever for Ellington’s Sacred Concert in the Netherlands, as one needs many people to perform it. Tippett’s Spirituals had been performed only rarely in the Netherlands.

This music video, recorded in Hong Kong in 2007, is called Michael Tippett: Go Down, Moses.

The five spirituals, performed in Amsterdam, were: Steal away to Jesus; Nobody knows the trouble; Go down, Moses; By and by; and Deep river.

While they are Christian religious songs, based on the Bible, there is an undertone of the struggle for freedom in African American history, against slavery and discrimination. Eg, in parallels with the Bible story of ancient Israelites escaping from slavery in Egypt, led by Moses.

This undertone of secular opposition to oppression within religious music is also present in Duke Ellington’s Sacred Concerts. They frequently have the word ‘freedom’, sometimes in many languages. The Christian right in the USA did not like that, claiming that Ellington had ‘polluted’ religion with jazz.

This music video, recorded on 17 March 2013 in San Marino, is called Duke Ellington’s Sacred Concerts (Full Concert).

Duke Ellington wrote three Sacred Concerts. In 1993, a compilation of these three was arranged by John Hoybye and Peder Pedersen. The Amsterdam performance was based on that compilation.

There was much applause after the music stopped.

Pentagon whitewash of hospital bombing rejected by Doctors Without Borders

This 4 October 2015 video is called Kunduz attack may amount to war crime – UN Human Rights chief.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

MSF/Doctors Without Borders: Kunduz report leaves important questions unanswered

Today, 20:08

MSF is shocked by the investigation report by the US military about their bombing of an MSF hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz. According to MSF director Christopher Stokes the findings just cause more questions.

Stokes finds it shocking that US troops launched an attack without having a view of the target and without having a list of buildings that should not be attacked.

He also points out faltering communication. During the attack, MSF staff have called the US Americans to say that they made a mistake. Yet the Americans continued bombarding. In the bombardments at least thirty people died.

Huge negligence

The series of faults points according to MSF to a massive failure by the US military. The destruction of the hospital can not be brushed aside by the organization as a human error, as the military does .

“It seems that thirty people died and hundreds of thousands of people in Kunduz are now without life-saving care because the hospital was closest to an open field and roughly resembled the description of the target,” writes Stokes.

MSF again calls for an independent investigation. “Research into this terrible event should not only be done by the parties involved in the conflict in Afghanistan.”

17-year-old Laquan McDonald killed in Chicago, USA

This video from Chicago in the USA says about itself:

Dashcam Video of Officer Jason Van Dyke Shooting Laquan McDonald

24 November 2015

Police released a dashcam video Tuesday evening that shows a police officer shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times in 2014.

The confrontation begins at approximately 5:00.

By Nick Barrickman and Joseph Kishore in the USA:

Protests erupt in Chicago after release of video showing police murder of 17-year-old

25 November 2015

Protests erupted in Chicago Tuesday night, following the release of video footage from the October 20, 2014 police killing of Laquan McDonald by 14-year veteran cop Jason Van Dyke. Several hundred people demonstrated late into the night, and at least three arrests were made.

The release of the video shatters a year-long attempted cover-up by the Chicago Police Department and the administration of Democratic Party Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the former chief of staff for President Barack Obama. The city worked systematically to prevent the video from being made public, while lying about the circumstances behind the murder of McDonald.

Earlier on Tuesday, Illinois state prosecutors charged Van Dyke with murder in the first degree for the shooting, which occurred “without legal justification and with the intent to kill or do great bodily harm,” according to a one-page court filing.

The release of the video and the decision to charge Van Dyke come nearly a week after Cook County Judge Franklin Valderrama ordered city officials to make public the footage. Charges against Van Dyke were sped up in an effort to assuage public outrage and social unrest that city officials anticipated would follow the forced release of evidence of wanton murder.

The video, which comes from a police cruiser’s dashboard camera, shows McDonald walking in the center lane of a busy thoroughfare. Van Dyke gets out of his car and, unprovoked, fires 16 bullets into the teen, who is walking away from the officers. Gun smoke visibly emanates from McDonald’s body as he is repeatedly shot while lying on the ground.

Autopsy reports show that McDonald was shot twice in the back, while 9 of the 16 bullet wounds he received had a downward trajectory.

Van Dyke, who had been placed on desk duty pending investigations by the FBI, the US attorney’s office in Chicago and the state attorney’s office for Cook County, turned himself in Tuesday. He is being held without bail.

While Emanuel is now claiming that he supports the video’s release—a transparent attempt to deflect attention from his own culpability in the cover-up—the city and Chicago Police Department in fact desperately attempted to prevent public exposure of the crime. In April, the city awarded a nearly $5 million settlement to the family of McDonald in a wrongful death lawsuit, which included a provision that the video would be kept secret.

Chicago police also reportedly deleted 86 minutes of footage from a security camera at a nearby Burger King, which would have shown the events leading up to the killing. Police refrained from interviewing witnesses to the killing, telling them simply to go home. One later described the killing as an “execution.”

As in many similar incidents, police claimed “self defense.” “He is a very serious threat to the officers, and he leaves them no choice at that point to defend themselves,” Fraternal Order of Police spokesman Pat Camden declared on the night of the killing last year. “When police tell you to drop a weapon, all you have to do is drop it.”

The judicial order requiring the video’s release, exposing these lies, came only after an independent journalist sued the police department following an initial decision not to grant his Freedom of Information request. Even the existence of the video came to light only thanks to the actions of a whistleblower.

“The real issue here is, this terrible thing happened, how did our governmental institutions respond?” Jason Kalven, the reporter who first uncovered the story, told the Chicago Reporter. “And from everything we’ve learned, compulsively at every level, from the cops on the scene to the highest levels of government, they responded by circling the wagons and by fabricating a narrative that they knew was completely false.”

Van Dyke was not an unknown quantity. Eighteen complaints had been filed against the cop throughout his 14 year career in the Chicago Police Department, including for the use of excessive force and shouting racial slurs at individuals whom he had detained. Yet he remained on active duty.

The political establishment and the media are now working in overdrive to contain public anger, while also preparing for police repression of protests. In advance of the video’s release, a spokesperson for the Chicago police declared, “The department is prepared to respond to any demonstrations and will hold people accountable if they cross the line. We might use the same tactics that were used during the NATO demonstrations.”

The charging of Van Dyke after a coordinated campaign of cover-up and lies only exposes the fact that the vast majority of police murders go unpunished. The entire political establishment, from the Obama administration on down, works systematically to exonerate killer cops. Only in extraordinary circumstances—when video unambiguously shows criminal activity—are charges filed, and often these result in exoneration.

Indeed, it is exactly one year since St. Louis prosecutors announced that they would not press charges against Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson for the murder of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. Since then, more than 1,000 people have been killed by police in the United States.

A Washington Post report earlier this year found that only 54 police officers have been charged over the past decade, leading to only 11 convictions.

Significantly, it was in Chicago that the Obama administration’s FBI director, James Comey, last month criticized the prevalence of video showing police killings for creating a “chill wind blowing through American law enforcement over the last year.” In other words, the problem is not that cops are murdering unarmed individuals, but that these murders are being documented and exposed.

VIDEO RELEASED OF CHICAGO OFFICER SHOOTING TEEN 16 TIMES “City officials on Tuesday released police dashcam video showing an officer shooting teenager Laquan McDonald 16 times, continuing to fire well after the youth falls to the ground. The court-ordered release of the video came hours after authorities charged Officer Jason Van Dyke with first-degree murder in the teen’s killing.” Demonstrators took to the streets in protest. Here’s a look at Van Dyke’s problematic record, as well as the Chicago Tribune’s editorial on what this means for the city of Chicago. [Kim Bellware, HuffPost]

Laquan McDonald: Video of Chicago police shooting dead black teenager brings protests and echoes of Ferguson: here.

Minneapolis, USA anti-#BlackLives#Matter gun violence update

This video from the USA says about itself:

Black Lives Matter protesters shot in Minneapolis

23 November 2015

Five demonstrators were shot, two with serious injuries and three non-fatally, at a Black Lives Matter protest in Minneapolis, Monday, after three white counter-protesters reportedly disrupted a protest for Jamar Clark.

The shots were reportedly fired outside the Minneapolis 4th Precinct Police Department, where a protest camp is currently being held for 24-year-old Clark after he was shot by police last week.

The activists, who have been stationed at the site for a week, are refusing to leave the Minneapolis police station until their demands are met, which include the release of police video tapes of the Clark killing, and the prosecution of the two police officers, Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze, involved in man’s death.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

United States: Five people shot during protest at police killing

Wednesday 25th November 2015

FIVE people protesting against police brutality were shot and wounded in Minneapolis in the small hours of yesterday.

The Black Lives Matter campaign blamed white supremacists for the attack during a demonstration against the police killing of Jamar Clark earlier this month.

Witness Oluchi Omeoga reported seeing three masked strangers among the protesters. Police said they were seeking three white male suspects.

The three strangers left the protest and a handful of protesters who had become suspicious followed them to a street corner, where the masked men pulled out weapons and shots rang out, she said.

Black Lives Matter organiser Micah Grimm said two people were shot in the leg, another in the arm and a fourth in the stomach. None suffered life-threatening injuries.

By Nick Barrickman in the USA:

Masked gunmen open fire, wound five at Black Lives Matter protest in Minneapolis

25 November 2015

Minneapolis police announced Tuesday night that they had detained four individuals connected to the shooting of five Black Lives Matter protesters the previous night. The gunmen opened fire at activists protesting the November 15 shooting of unarmed 24-year old Jamar Clark by Minneapolis police, wounding five. None of the injuries were fatal.

Police reported Tuesday that two individuals; a 23-year old white male and a 32-year old Hispanic male, were apprehended in connection to the shootings, but their names were not made public. Two other white males, aged 21 and the other 26, turned themselves in during the day, though one was later released.

According to witnesses, a group of masked men approached the demonstrations attempting to start fights with protesters before opening fire on a section of the demonstrators as they left.

“These four white guys walked up … They had masks and they had a briefcase. I thought they were there to donate [something],” said Carrie Brown, a protester who had witnessed the attack, to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Activists from Black Lives Matter Minneapolis released a statement on social media accusing the assailants of being white supremacists.

Miski Noor, a media liaison for Black Lives Matter, told the New York Times that the masked group had been appearing at the protests since last Friday, seeking to provoke protesters and videotaping the event.

On Tuesday, protesters rallied in downtown Minneapolis in response to the shooting. They have been holding vigils outside of the Minneapolis Fourth Precinct police station since Clark encountered officers Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze on November 15. At the time of Clark’s shooting, the young man was allegedly interfering with a paramedic team attempting to treat an individual whom Clark had been in a dispute with. Witnesses say that Clark was handcuffed when officers shot him. He died several days later.

Authorities have been hesitant to label the attacks on the Black Lives Matter demonstrators a hate crime. “I know there’s a lot of speculation as to who these people were,” said US Representative Keith Ellison, an African-American whose district includes most of Minneapolis. “And they well could have been, I’m not trying to say they weren’t white supremacists. But I just haven’t been able to piece together enough information to say with any real clarity.”

Police presence in the area was immediately augmented in the area following the attacks. FBI spokesman Kyle A. Loven released a statement declaring that the FBI was monitoring the situation and would decide “as to whether or not any further federal action is necessary.”

Similarly, officials have seized upon the Monday shootings to bolster the image of the police in the wake of the outrage over Jamar Clark’s killing. Hailing the apprehension of the two suspects, Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau released a statement declaring local law enforcement to be “true professionals” who had “worked nonstop through the night to bring justice in last night’s shooting.”

Immediately prior to the shooting, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, a Democrat, called for a federal investigation into the killing of Clark.